Pediatric Clinic, Faculty of Medicine, Skopje

Young People and the Morern Society (empirical research)

Young People 
and the Modern Society


We live in very insecure times. In the last hundred years a lot of long lasting traditions have been shaken, especially those that refer to the family and social living, economic order, government elements, religious beliefs. In particular, in the countries in transition there were a lot of events, changes, insecurities and ambivalence in the area of politics, education and culture. Year of 1999 as an end of the twentieth century stimulated many summaries of experiences, attitudes, and successes/failures. 
Motivated by a sociological poll carried out at the end of 1999 in the central European country - France [1], we made research on some relevant attitudes and opinions that young people in our country have. In order the comparisons to be more real, the same criteria in our research, performed in the beginning of 2000, were obeyed: age between 15-25 years, presence of both sexes, random choice of the examinees, taking care of different social and educational levels.
In our poll, 300 examinees from Skopje were involved, with an average age of 17.2 years, of sexes, pupils from ordinary and workers' schools and students. The poll was anonymous and in a written form, with encircling of the answers. The questionnaire consisted of 12 questions written in an easy style, with multiple-choice answers.
In general, the results have shown that the life in the modern society brings more burden and difficulties than that of the older generations. Young people in both countries agree that the society that they live in is corrupted, there are big social differences, it is full with aggression and violence, protectionism and a little hope for employment or a chance for buying an apartment. Money is the basic mover of the modern life.
In the following, the comparative results obtained for young Macedonians and Frenchmen will be presented and analyzed.


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To the question: How do you feel in the modern society? The answers that young people from Macedonia gave compared with the young people from France, were as follows:

Quite good Not bad Bad  
35% 58% 7% Macedonians
20% 70% 10% Frenchmen

The answers that were given by the young Macedonians seem to be more optimistic compared to the Frenchmen, but this is only allegedly. The further answers show that this feeling is not consistent, resulting from a different starting level.
Particularly interesting is the question, Which are the most serious problems that young people face with? and we received the answers presented on Fig.1:

So, the most dominant problem that young people have in our country as well as in the developed Europe is unemployment. We were surprised that young people in our country are more afraid of drugs and alcohol than the young Frenchmen. However, in reference to AIDS, the opinions appeared to be equal.

Especially important for the young generation is the ranking of human values and value systems. In our everyday life, we usually say that the values which young people have nowadays have been changed. The question was about what has a special place in the life of a young person, what is important, less important or not important. Figure 2 presents what the poll on the most important personal values among young people in Macedonia as well as in France showed.

It is interestinging that for the young people in both countries the family warmth is the most important thing in their life (91% of the young Macedonians and 82% Frenchmen). Immediately after that as the most important thing comes love and having a job. The largest differences appear concerning friendship, university education and religion. Among Macedonians the first two are remarkably less appreciated, while the religion has been estimated two and half times higher. These results suggest the presence of serious displacements in the value system of young Macedonians.
The next question was about the trust that young people have in the society institutions (Fig.3).

The young people in Macedonia have the biggest trust in schools, army and the health system. Apart from here, the ranking of young Frenchmen is slightly different: first the health system, than schools and the university. The trust in state institutions, syndicate, private institutions and press in Macedonians is considerably lower than in Frenchmen. Among both populations the lowest is the confidence in political parties, commercials and the parliament.

On the other hand, the security that a young man feels for his future in our country is disastrously low. While 61% of the young people in France feel secure about their future, within the young people in Macedonia this percentage amounts only 24% (Fig.4).

Fig 4. When you think about future do you feel secure or you are worried?

Macedonians Frenchmen

This leads among others to the phenomenon of brain drain. Because they are insecure in their future the young people look for a way to emigrate in more secure regions. This result correlates with some of the previous research, carried out at the Macedonian Academy of Science and Arts, according to which 75% of the students who were in the last years of the departments for energetic and computer science of the Skopje University planned to work abroad [2].

Everyday we talk about the nepotism, corruption and connections. How do the young people percieve this? The following question is provocative in this sense (Fig. 5).

Fig 5. Do you believe that the modern society gives enough opportunities 
for success if you come from a family without connections or a poor one?

Macedonians Frenchmen

Actually, the young people both in France and in Macedonia believe that the possibilities of the young are not great if their families do not have influence or if they are not rich. Still, for young Frenchman the chances would be twice higher.
If the ordinary, young person has minimum chances to succeed without the support of his/her family (material, privileges) than what would they suggest to be changed? Namely, shall the society in which they live: 1) remains as it is, 2) be radically changed, 3) undergo crucial reforms, 4) the important to remain the same and only some segments to be reformed? (Fig.6)

Only 3% of the young Macedonians believe that the society should remain as it is, while 42% suggest radical changes or 34% reforms in the crucial segments in the society. If we sum up, 76% of the Macedonians are for radical and crucial changes which is for 46% more than the opinion on changes in the French society. 

Therefore, the social differences among the young people become especially stressed out. On the actual question for the differences, 91% of the young Macedonian
answered that the social differences are clearly visible which is far less expressed in the French society (the respective score was 59%).

The causes for the social fracture between young population, ranked according to their answers are presented on Table I.

Table 1: Ranking of the causes for social fracture

  Macedonian Frenchmen
Social origin I III
Employment II I
Educational level III IV
Habitation IV II

As can be seen, the employment/unemployment is the biggest cause of the social fracture between the young; for Frenchmen this factor is on the first place, for the Macedonian on the second. The educational level as a cause of social fracture in both cases is ranked relatively low; in Macedonians it is on the third place, while for them in the first place is the social origin, which certainly means a negative tendency.

Is it important to be a member of a political party?

Among young Macedonian 22% answered yes to this question while 78% answered with no, while in Frenchmen, these figures equal 27% and 73%, respectively. Altogether, the political engagement and interest with young people is not very high, among Macedonian as well as Frenchmen.

What does the educational system offer you?
  Macedonian Frenchmen
To learn a lot 28% 91%
To obtain general culture 35% 82%
To learn a craft 37% 75%

For a young person in developed world, the school provides knowledge, general culture and then professional credibility. Among our young people the sequence of ranking is reverse. Still, this comparison should be considered as conditional, since in our case the questions were put disjunctively, and for Frenchmen conjunctively.

Do you choose what will you study/do?
  Macedonian Frenchmen
Yes 88% 85%
No 12% 15%

The choice of the profession obviously is a matter of personal initiative; a few young people choose the type of school or the profession according to their parent's suggestion, which demonstrates the high degree of emancipation.


Summed up, young people in the contemporary Macedonian society feel very insecure, they are very much worried about their future and feel the social fracture. They think that without connections or family financial support they have almost no chances to find their own way in the society: to be employed, to have accommodation etc. According to them, the unemployment is the biggest problem, which needs to be solved, but the problems with the drugs, alcohol and AIDS are as well important. 
Family, job position and love are the most important values in the life of the contemporary young person both Macedonian and French. However, young Macedonians feeling insecure and without trust in social institutions, suggest radical and crucial reforms of the system, but not being able to solve those themselves, they become disappointed, neglect education, and some run away in the religion. It should be pointed out that the poll was done among young people who study. Most probably the results would be even more drastic if the poll were carried out among young people who are not engaged in the educational process and are mostly unemployed.

Because of these facts, if we compare our society with the French, and if its aims are providing stability, security and prosperity, the main task which should be solved is providing a way for crucial changes in the system to alleviate the problems of the young people which remain the moving force and the future of a country. In this sense, some particular recommendations, which impose from this research, would be: (a) providing work on the basis of genuine principles and not by nepotism and corruption; (b) lowering the social differences among the young people and the loss of perspective, which would also indirectly diminish the challenge of consuming drug, alcohol and other stress-reducing substances; and (c) crucial reforms in the social system to provide healthier state, by which the brain drain phenomenon would be also minimized so that the intellectual cadre would stay for use in its own country.

Acknowledgment: For the help while conducting the poll I would like to thank Tatjana Zorcec, psychologist from the Pediatric Clinic.


[1] Les valeure et les attentes se 15-24 ans, Sofres, FSU, Paris, 1999; aussi Gurrey B. et Subtil M.P Les jeunes critiquent la societe mais ne souhaitent pas la boulverser, 
le Monde, 21-22 Nov. 1999

[2] Pop-Jordanov J., Markovska N., Brain drainin energy and informatics,, Enciclopedia Moderna, 1993, 4: 308-313